First India, now Supreme Court divided over hijab as two-judge bench gives split verdict

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday gave a split verdict in the Karnataka hijab ban case, with Justice Hemant Gupta dismissing the petitions against the hijab ban, while Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia allowing them.

“It’s a matter of choice, nothing more, nothing less,” said Justice Dhulia while allowing the appeals and setting aside the Karnataka High Court order.

“There is divergence of opinion,” Justice Gupta said at the outset while pronouncing the verdict.

He further said that the matter is referred to the Chief Justice of India for appropriate direction.

“The operative part of the order says that the matter has to be placed before the Chief Justice of India for the constitution of a larger bench or another bench,” said Advocate, Ezaz Maqbool, lawyer for the petitioners’side.

The Supreme Court bench had reserved its verdict on the pleas on 22 September after hearing arguments in the matter for 10 days.

On 15 March, the high court had dismissed the petitions filed by a section of Muslim students of the Government Pre-University Girls College in Karnataka’s Udupi seeking permission to wear the hijab inside classrooms, ruling it is not a part of the essential religious practice in Islamic faith.

During the arguments in the apex court, a number of counsel appearing for the petitioners had insisted that preventing Muslim girls from wearing the hijab to the classroom will put their education in jeopardy as they might stop attending classes.

Counsel for the petitioners had argued on various aspects, including on the state government’s February 5, 2022 order which banned wearing clothes that disturb equality, integrity, and public order in schools and colleges.

Some advocates had also argued that the matter be referred to a five-judge constitution bench.

On the other hand, the counsel appearing for the state had argued that the Karnataka government order that kicked up a row over hijab was “religion neutral”.

Insisting that the agitation in support of wearing hijab in educational institutions was not a “spontaneous act” by a few individuals, the state’s counsel had argued in the apex court that the government would have been “guilty of dereliction of constitutional duty” if it had not acted the way it did.

The state government’s order of 5 February, 2022 was challenged by some Muslim girls in the high court.

Several pleas have been filed in the apex court challenging the high court verdict.

With inputs from agencies

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First India, now Supreme Court divided over hijab as two-judge bench gives split verdict
First India, now Supreme Court divided over hijab as two-judge bench gives split verdict
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